Nuclear skills in focus at Westminster roundtable with shadow ministers

18 June 2024

Prospect worked with Trade Unions for Safer Nuclear Energy (TUSNE), Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Science, Research & Innovation, and Lord Ravensdale to hold a parliamentary roundtable looking at skills in the nuclear industry.

Chaired by Sue Ferns, Prospect Senior Deputy General Secretary, the meeting looked at some of the challenges facing nuclear and the wider STEM sector on skills and how these could be addressed.

As well as parliamentarians, the meeting in late April was also attended by representatives of the GMB and Unite.

Sarah Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Industry and Decarbonisation said: “The Labour Party is very supportive of new nuclear after 14 years of inaction.”

Emphasising the ambition of the mission to meet Net Zero and the party’s Green Prosperity Plan, she said: “We need to all therefore be talking about how to make this work and skills is an absolutely core part of that”.

She said a key focus was on: “How do we get the workforce that we need to deliver the ambition that we have in terms of growing the economy and creating new jobs for people?”

Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Skills Minister said growing the economy was her party’s “number one priority” and this would require “investing in human talent and skills across the country”.

She talked about recent visits to Hinkley Point C and the National College for Nuclear, and said she wanted to keep in touch with unions about nuclear skills as well as wider STEM skills, like engineering and welding, which cut across a range of industry sectors.

Focussing on plans for an industrial strategy, she said: “No single department is going to deliver industrial strategy on its own, and no single department is going to deal with our energy needs on its own”.

“And we’re going to have to see that industrial strategy be anchored by the Industrial Strategy Council, with the voices of our different sectors being very clear and important and loud.. That will be on the statutory footing”.

“Our new body Skills England will be there to support the development of skills, through a National Skills Strategy, which will go across our economy, supported by regional and local skills plans”.

Following the event, Sue Ferns said:

“It was good to hear from shadow ministers for a range of government departments involved about how some of the skills barriers facing our members and the nuclear industry can be resolved”.

“All too often in the past decision making has been siloed and lacked co-ordination.”

“As the election approaches Prospect will be working to engage with all parties on how we tackle the skills challenges that the country faces to deliver Net Zero and a Just Transition.”

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